The Best Looking Affordable Briefcases of 2012

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Above:  Suit by Indochino – $379, Shoes by Allen Edmonds – $199 ($355)

In this economy, you’re considered lucky to have a job you don’t want to go to.  If you have a job you do like going to?  All the better.  And if you’re currently looking, you’ll need something decent to carry your resumes around in.  You’ll find a bag for just about every budget below.  Because as much as you might like your old Jansport, it doesn’t exactly say “promote me” when you walk through the door with a backpack slung over your shoulder.
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Kenneth Cole Rio Portfolio – $132.50 w/ SHOP9 ($225) and Slim Case – $69.97 ($148)

Nice of the code to stack on the promo.

Some bags from Kenneth Cole can be… underwhelming?  That doesn’t seem to be the case (mwrnah) here.  Select bags through KCNY are 30% off, and the SHOP9 promo code gets you $25 off orders of $125 or more through 2/30. Kenneth Cole Leather won’t blow your mind, but that’s a pretty smooth bag for $130. The Slim Case is also an extra 30% off, and it’s barely more than anything to wrap around an iPad or a few documents. No grab handle. Perfect for the guy who needs to carry something, but hates carrying something.

 

Filson Original Briefcase – $215.00

Made in the USA

Hard to argue with a legend. The less back-country looking tan seems to be on backorder plenty, but the brown and otter green are usually on hand. Also keep an eye on Urban Outfitters. They carry the Filson Original, and when they run site wide codes, you can get them through U.O. for cheaper. Made in the USA and tough as nails.

 

Jack Spade Davis Brief in Shark Grey – $199.99 ($375)

Grey… is good.

This one keeps coming and going on the Nordstrom site under sale items and sometimes The Rack.  Leather but doesn’t take itself too seriously.  The grey color is as good as it gets for breaking away from the traditional black/brown rut.

 

Ben Sherman Laptop Case – $35.69 – $44.79 ($119)

For when you need something that’ll do.

The cheapest of the cheap, but still respectable in a casual work environment. Had one of these and I was surprised at how well it held up. It’s trim, comes in a variety of colors via a variety of retailers, and it gets the job done. Bit of a starter briefcase for sure, but it works.

 

Jack Spade Canvas & Supply Brief – $95.18 w/ FEBFAMILY ($365)

Final sale though. Be aware.

Meanwhile, over at the CLAD sale, this one has slipped through the cracks and is ripe at under $100 for anyone who prefers a more relaxed, utility looking brief.  Canvas with leather accents.  Ships free.  Remember that it’s final sale and from here on out you can’t return purchases made on or after 2/15.

 

J. Crew Montague Leather Satchel – $238.40 w/ FABFEB ($298)

But will it end up on clearance?

Pushing $300 would be a no, but under $250… well…  Look, some have had awful luck with J. Crew leather products and briefcases / bags.  The rugged twill messenger is still holding up fine for me.  And they make a point in the description to mention how it’s intended for “long term use,” so that’s pretty ballsy if the thing doesn’t hold up.  Certainly looks like it’s from the past.

 

Samsonite Delegate II Attache 5″ – $77.23 ($180)

Subtle.  Makes you wonder.

If you’re going to go with a classic, hard sided attache, skip the leather since it’ll look like you pulled it from your Dad’s closet or got it at Staples.  A synthetic or metal side is all business.  The Delegate II has some texture to it, and this new version is streamlined to 5.5″ thick (the old one is a beefier 6.5″)

 

Aston Leather Made in the USA Brief – $209.96 w/ ALFEB2 ($485)

Traditional satchel style. Made in the U.S.

Retails for closer to $500 since it’s made here in the United States of American Cowhide.  Solid brass hardware too.  It ends up on Sierra Trading post, and with the code ALFEB2 which takes 20% off $100, 25% off $150 and 30% off orders over $200, this now drops to just over two hundred.

 

Wood & Faulk Delux 16″ Carpenter’s Bag – $139.00

Unique, and not for everyone.

Made in the USA, going to be stunning to sum, and just $140.  Others won’t like the color and lighter leather, and will think it looks a little too much like a purse.  Actual size is 17″x7″x12″  More of a pure bag, so be prepared to keep the inside organized on your own.

 

Pelle Studio Dakota Side Rod Zip Brief – $149.99

Casual, cleaned up, and not a bank breaker.

Rustic & City all at the same time with a little less cost than usual.  Via Wilson’s Leather.  On sale, and without going overboard on pockets, closure mechanisms, etc…

 

The Splurge:  Billykirk Schoolboy Satchel – $365.00*

Could use a sale…

Like a light version of a Saddleback.  Some would say better than a Saddleback.  Made in the USA from Horween leather.  Was available through Bonobos for a time (yay codes) but they’re sold out now.  Available through J. Crew, but these haven’t drifted into the sale section and they probably will never get there.  *In fact, these are currently not on the J. Crew site, since they’re offering a 20% off site wide code, and some of their “in good company” stuff has been pulled.

 

The Splurge Part II:  Saddleback Medium Leather Briefcase – $411.00

It’ll outlive you.

The meanest looking “luxury” item you’ll ever find.  Expensive, but with a 100 year warranty it could very well be the last briefcase you ever buy.  Might look out of place in some high powered law firm, and it also takes a little bit of getting used to the weight.  But it feels like the Mayan Apocalypse would be no match for this thing.  See a full review here.

 

The Inexpensive Best-in-show:  B.R. Edward Messenger Bag – $129.00 ($90.30 at 30% off)

Small cost, big you-can-take-me-seriously factor.

Maybe the best in show if you’re on a tight budget.  Wait for a sale and you can get this for under $100 and shipped for free.  It’s mainly a nice, ballistic-nylon-looking exterior with a bit of leather trim.  That lack of leather seems to help keep the cost down.  Hardwear is a matte, brushed silver.  Grab handle is perfect, it’s nice and slim, and looks plenty professional.  Two drawbacks:  don’t expect to get a ton in there other than a laptop, charger, mouse, and some papers, but the slim design is nice.  Also, two of the reviews online are a little concerning, saying that the material inside the flap is a cardboard like substance that can warp if it gets real wet.  No problems so far on this end.

What else?  What do you carry?  Any and all other suggestions can go in the comments section below…